Expert highlights 11 early signs of dementia to spot in family
Dr Julia Jones discusses lifestyle changes to help prevent dementia
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Professor Matthew Cohen is the associate director of the Delaware Center for Cognitive Aging Research. While it can be commonplace for people to develop mild cognitive impairment (MCI) in older age, there is a difference between MCI and dementia. A person who could be experiencing dementia might encounter “daily problems with thinking and/or memory”.
Examples include asking the same questions, over and over again, or increasingly relying on memory aids or on other people to remember things.
Another possible indication of dementia is having new difficulty with handling financial affairs.
If a person has always struggled to manage their finances, this sign might not be relevant.
However, if a person used to be financially switched on and is now finding it hard to manage their accounts, it could be a warning sign of declining mental capabilities.
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One clear indication of dementia is when a person finds familiar tasks have become challenging.
For instance, if the person can no longer remember how to drive to their local shop, or can’t remember the rules of their favourite game, they could have dementia.
It’s also possible for the progressive disease to cause a person to lose track of dates, places and appointments.
There could also be newfound issues with spoken and written language, such as finding it difficult to express oneself.
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“It’s normal to occasionally have trouble finding the right word,” said Professor Cohen.
“However, it’s worth getting checked out if these problems are notably worse than other people of the same age… or if there is difficulty following or joining a conversation.”
Dementia might also lead to misplaced items without the ability to retrace steps.
“It’s normal to misplace things from time to time, but if a person has difficulty retracing their steps, or accuses others of stealing, it might be a sign of a health condition,” said Professor Cohen.
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Uncharacteristically bad decisions may also be an indication of deteriorating brain function.
As could paying less attention to personal care habits, such as bathing and grooming.
Withdrawing from social activities, hobbies, or other engagements could be a warning sign of dementia.
There might also be changes in mood and personality, such as becoming confused, suspicious, depressed, and anxious.
11 early signs of dementia
- Thinking and memory issues
- New financial difficulties
- Challenges with familiar tasks
- Losing track of appointments
- Changes in visual perception
- Problems with spoken and written language
- Misplacing objects
- Bad decisions
- Less personal care
- Social withdrawal
- Changes in mood and personality.
If you notice such symptoms in a loved one, Professor Cohen advises seeking professional help from a GP.
“People are often surprised and encouraged to learn that up to 40 percent of cases of dementia can be delayed or prevented by living a healthy lifestyle,” said Professor Cohen.
A healthy lifestyler involves exercising, eating a good diet, managing medical conditions, sleeping well, and using hearing aids if you need them.
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